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Hosea 2:14-23

Lesson Focus:

God has not given up on us. God is speaking to our heart drawing us back into a relationship with himself that is marked by righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness.

Lesson Outcomes:

Through this lesson students should:

  1. Understand that God never wants to let us go.

  2. Define righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness.

  3. Begin to understand how we must live in righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness if we desire to more fully know God.

Catching up on the story:

Hosea has diagnosed Israel’s main problem and it is idolatry. The root of idolatry is believing that someone or something is responsible for the good gifts of life and health that we have received from God. This idolatry caused Israel to chase after other “lovers” who promised her protection and abundance. God promised to withhold those good gifts and Israel would come to her senses and know that neither Baal nor anything else could provide for her. God is hoping that Israel will remember how God has provided for Israel so that she might return to him.

The Text:

Therefore: 2:14-15

The second half of chapter 2 begins with a “therefore.” At first glance this “therefore” may seem a bit out of place, as the last lines of verse 13 describe how Israel made herself beautiful so that she could go after her lovers, totally forgetting her husband. This “therefore” marks God’s second response to Israel’s unfaithfulness, the first being judgment and the natural consequences of her unfaithfulness. This second response is one of hope and renewal. There is a sense here that God understands that punishment upon Israel will not completely and totally fix the problem. What is needed is not an ending to the relationship between God and Israel but a new beginning.

The word, therefore, is always followed by some kind of result, be it an action or a logical conclusion to a thought or train of thought. The resulting action that follows this is God’s turning again toward Israel to woo her back to himself. “Therefore, I will now allure her…” If we are not careful here we can twist the image of verse 14 into one of deception and violence. We’ve seen enough TV shows or movies where a villain bent on doing harm seduces a young woman to a secluded place so that he might have his way with her. That is not what is happening here. To attribute to God any sense of deception or coercion would go against the overwhelming testimony of the Old and New Testaments concerning the nature of God.

No, God is calling Israel to the wilderness, where his is the only voice she can hear. He will “speak tenderly to her;” literally, God will speak to her heart. The image here is that of two persons at\ the beginning of a relationship where words of trust are spoken. God’s tender speaking will not be the only thing that God offers Israel; he will offer her vineyards and hope.

Verse 15 takes us back to the beginning of things between Israel and God after the covenant at Mt. Sinai where God began to fulfill his promise to give Israel a land flowing with milk and honey. The reference to the “Valley of Achor” is to remind Israel of the incident with Achan in Joshua 7:24-26. Israel engaged in a battle and was commanded to not keep any of the spoils for themselves. Achan, however, did not listen and was eventually found out. The place was named the Valley of Achor, which means “Valley of Trouble,” because of the trouble Israel experienced resulting from Achan’s sin. Achor will no longer be a place of trouble, but an entrance leading to hope. God is taking Israel back to the beginning and renewing his covenant with her. For Israel’s part, she will respond as she did in those early days when she first came up out of Egypt.

On That Day… 2:16-23

The phrase, “On that day” signifies a day in the future when God will act definitively on Israel’s behalf. It marks a time in the future. Some scholars believe that Hosea does not intend for us to believe that these things will happen within his historical lifetime, but rather in some distant future. Some have argued that “On that day” refers to the time of the church. What is clear, however, is that God is speaking about what he will do. The covenant that was breached by Israel will be renewed and God will once again enter into a deep and intimate relationship with Israel. The imagery of this section, however, speaks of an experience of safety and peace that we have not yet fully experienced. Peace and safety are what we still long for today. At the same time, however, as the church, we have experienced a new and fresh uniting with God through Christ. The New Testament uses marital language to speak about this. The church is the “bride of Christ.” We have been united with Christ in our baptism. The promise of “On that day” is both already here but not yet fully completed.

When that day arrives, Israel will call God “My husband” and no longer call him “My Baal.” The Hebrew word translated here as “husband” is used as a way to describe the loving partnership aspect of the marriage relationship. Interestingly enough, the word translated as “Baal” can also be used to describe a marriage relationship; only “Baal,” meaning lord, denotes more of a contractual and dominating master image. Some marriage in Hosea’s time operated that way. Keep in mind that our understanding of what marriage should be is not how it was commonly viewed in biblical times. What Hosea is communicating here is that the relationship that God desires between himself and Israel is not one of a master to servant, but of a relationship between two loving and committed partners. In fact, the relationship between God and Israel will be so good that the whole idea of “Baal” will be removed from Israel’s vocabulary.

Not only will God make a covenant with Israel, but also God will make a covenant on Israel’s behalf with the wild animals, the birds of the air and the creeping things on the ground. You will notice that the order the animals are listed is the order in which they were created. God is working so that the peace and harmony that existed between humanity and the created order in Genesis will be restored. Not only will Israel experience harmony with the created order, but also God will work so that the land will be free from the bow, the sword, and war in general. Israel will be able to go to sleep in safety, not worrying about a threat from nature or from man. It’s obvious at this point that this part of the promise has yet<